May 17, 2020

Six ways for CPOs to strengthen relationships with CFOs

CPO
CFO
Accenture
Smart Cube
James Henderson
3 min
Accenture talks about digital procurement
A recent report from Accenture found that many procurement execs are not leveraging their C-suite counterparts to help reinvent the supply chain functio...

A recent report from Accenture found that many procurement execs are not leveraging their C-suite counterparts to help reinvent the supply chain function and transform it into an engine of new growth models and customer experiences.

The research report, Drive Your Own Disruption: Is your supply chain in sleep mode?, found that the 900 supply chain executives surveyed were more likely to say that they see their function in two years as a cost efficiency driver (60%) or a support function (68%) than as a competitive differentiator (48%) or a growth enabler (53%).

It means that many CSCOs could be leaving significant value on the table for their organisations. 

In an exclusive interview with Supply Chain Digital, Omer Abdullah, Co-Founder and Managing Director at The Smart Cube, details five strategies for CPOs to positively develop their relationships with their CFO counterparts

  1. Develop an open and transparent channel of communication with the CFO

Communicate clearly; show the nuances, take a total cost approach, show all of those aspects so that you are clearly communicating with the CFO. One of the CPOs that we have interviewed said something really important which was “The CPO's work can only come to life if the CFO is behind it,” which I think is very true. Those conversations are critical.

  1. Speak the language of finance

“Make sure your team has quantitative depth, they have the analytical capabilities, that they're aligned in terms of definitions with finance as to how their actions translate into numbers and numbers that actually make sense to the finance team.”

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  1. Engage with the finance team much earlier in the strategy and goal setting process.

“This is absolutely essential. Find multiple stakeholders within finance that you can get to know, that you can build relationships with, that your category leaders can then build relationships with so that your web of connections and interactions are at all levels of the finance organisation, not just between the CPO and the CFO. That’s how you develop longevity.”

  1. Develop innovative ways to upscale procurement performance and show credibility.

“In other words, develop deeper analytics into the data that you've got. Show the trending. Show that you have a better understanding of category economics so you know how that moves. Show that you have a strong handle on commodity movements. If you're buying product on a day-to-day basis that feeds into your manufacturing process or goes through to your end customer, you need to be aware of where commodity price movements are going, such that you will know when prices are going to get influenced, why they're going to get influenced and then be able to take those actions around that. Innovative solutions are critical.

  1. Establish a clear performance scorecard for procurement.

“One that is balanced, looks beyond cost, looks at total cost, looks at performance, and looks at factors like innovation.”

  1. Ensure both sides are clear on definitions

“We hear a lot of debates about cost avoidance versus cost reduction. If you’re only interested in one measure, then establish that right up front. It’s really important that a consensus is developed and that terms that CPOs and CFOs are not aligned on are not part of the conversation. Let's get that cleared up upfront, because if you can't get consensus on that, then let's not use terms that we don't all align with."

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Aug 2, 2021

Procurement Outsourcing: Partnering with Outside Experts

Procurement
ProcurementOutsourcing
Supplychain
Sourcing
6 min
To adapt to an unpredictable world, you can transfer specific procurement processes to outside vendors—cutting costs and re-focusing on your core products

In coming years, supply and demand will fluctuate, new technology will change the way procurement teams operate, and skilled workers will be in short supply. Outsourcing procurement is now a priority. Explained John Piatek, GEP Vice President and Thought Leadership Council Chairman: “In the face of wild swings in consumer demand, trade wars, tariffs, and lockdowns...supply chains bent and frequently broke.” Therefore, companies need to know how to recover. 

The Rise of Strategic Procurement 


The pandemic placed procurement on a higher level within business operations. Executive boards that previously overlooked or undersold the value of procurement started to sit procurement managers around the table with strategic advisors to mitigate risks, optimise costs, and drive growth. ‘‘This year has demonstrated the importance of bringing CPOs into C-suite conversations”, explained Jennifer Brown, Principal, Deloitte Consulting. “They bring significant value to the table.” 

Procurement teams now race to find skilled, third-party vendors to provide services they can neither afford nor prioritise. Outsourcing of S2C can give companies access to expertise, capabilities, and scale they may not have in-house,” said Iliana Filyanova, Partner for McKinsey’s Manufacturing & Supply Chain. For example, expert outside firms can analyse market conditions, supply specialised goods such as semiconductors or uniquely designed parts, and help develop a strong IT infrastructure. 

To be clear, if your team can skillfully outsource, a whole new world opens up: you can rapidly adjust to market conditions, scale up when demand spikes, and scale down when dips hit. 

Why Outsource? 


First, you can cut costs. Suppliers in Southeast Asia and other low-cost countries can provide large amounts of materials and products at excellent prices without the political backlash that often accompanies offshoring. But outsourcing has several advantages. When you get specialists on board, you can shorten development times, hire additional staff without having to train them, and digitise your procurement systems thanks to IT experts. 

 

Additional Benefits 

  • Increases focus on core tasks 
  • Provides staff more time to fulfil their priorities 
  • Supplies next-gen technology expertise 
  • Reduces operational costs
  • Helps prevent duplicate payments 

 

These benefits only accrue, however, if your team carefully defines the scope of the operation. When you try to hit the bull’s-eye on a dartboard, you aim directly at the centre. It takes a certain angle, force, and skill. Likewise, procurement teams must figure out what and how much to outsource. Outsourcing still requires spending, and teams will want to get good data before they sign a final contract. In addition, staff members should be on board with the rationale and objectives of the outsourcing project—otherwise, your darts will miss their target. 

How To Successfully Outsource Procurement 


According to McKinsey, teams should focus on three main steps. 

 

  1. Determine which categories to outsource. Focus on non-core business areas. These are any services that support your core product, such as freight and shipping, facilities, and IT infrastructure. 
  2. Select the right metrics. Build supplier scorecards, in which your team decides upon two to three key criteria such as low unit prices, supply chain resilience, and quality of product. 
  3. Partner with the appropriate people. Ask potential firms questions to assess their domain expertise; diversify your search to take in a variety of global organisations, and consider their technical skills—even if you’re not hiring the vendor for IT. 

 

If these focus areas seem too broad, Deloitte recommends a phase-by-phase process.

Deloitte: The Seven Stages of Outsourcing


Starting the Search

First, companies should Assess and Prepare. These steps include defining vendor requirements and starting to engage. In these phases, you may do some background research but not engage with them directly. Web searches can yield initial results, and consultants can also help—especially those who know the strengths and weaknesses of your industry. After you have your list narrowed down, you can produce a strong, detailed RFP.

Naturally, your RFP will attract the relevant suppliers, and you’ll be able to move to Evaluate. If you’ve chosen strong metrics, two to three top vendor proposals should stand out. Be forewarned, Deloitte said: the next part is tricky. Committing, or negotiating your final contracts, will lock you into a potentially multi-year collaboration with a vendor. Take your time: you can deliberate over competing offers, as well as request that additional support be built into the contract. 

Negotiating the Best Deal

Advocate for your best interests! “I moved forward to negotiate with a current contract manufacturer with whom we had an important volume commitment with high prices,” said Elodie Cramer, Associate Director of Biogen. “We were in a single-source situation, with no active alternatives.” She opted to pursue dual sourcing, as well as insist on open vendor discussions. At the conclusion of the talks, she had bartered better terms: 29% lower costs, 75% less volume commitment, and improved vendor quality and service. 

Additionally, teams should discuss details such as how to optimise taxes, meet regulatory compliance, and protect ESG standards. Safety-catch measures like these may seem to extend the outsourcing process, but they’ll ensure that you don’t end up spending more over the long term. Compliance, after all, can drive 30% to 50% of savings, and talking about it upfront is for the best for all concerned. 

Closing the Case

Once you’ve reached acceptable terms, you can Transition, handing the project work and resources over to your vendor, and Optimise, following up to manage and improve the relationship. Don’t forget to dot your i’s and cross your t’s—Deloitte even recommends an end checklist. Sign the contract; create a people transition plan; complete consultations with any oversight committees. After signing the paper with a flourish, you can then rest easily, confident that you’ve followed a strategic outsourcing system. 

Companies To Emulate 

Procter & Gamble, Unilever, Slack, Alibaba, Acer: even major multinational companies seek to outsource specific systems, technical skills, or materials. When Unilever integrated its ERP platforms into a single system, outsourcing saved the company an annual €700 million. Slack outsourced its universally-known colourful design label to MetaLab. Alibaba outsourced to US firms to compete with eBay. Acer outsourced manufacturing to maintain a small, agile team. As a result, these companies improved their international reputations, offset their internal weaknesses, and built strong vendor partnerships. 

As executives increasingly turn to procurement to make their global operations less costly and more resilient, teams that strategically outsource work will stand a better chance of bringing good news to the next management meeting. Said Ryan Flynn, Principal, Deloitte Consulting: “CPOs are uniquely positioned to help their organizations navigate a historically disruptive time and build the agility required to thrive.” 

Yet to do so, they must act with intent. “Successful outsourcing—outsourcing that drives transformation and helps achieve broad strategic goals—requires companies to follow a disciplined process,” wrote Deloitte. In short: Outsourcing initiatives succeed not by luck, but by design. 

 

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